Book Reviews

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

dear fang

Vera is a 17 year-old who had a major breakdown at a school party. Not only was she hospitalized but videos were taken by peers and part-time father Lucas thinks the answer to helping her is to take her away to Lithuania to find out about his heritage.

Vera is insightful (or crazy?) and humorous. Lucas is tying to rectify his absence from Vera’s childhood and learn more about his grandmother’s escape from Stutthof, while staying sober. Hearing from the two characters is what kept me interested in the story. The combination of emails to Vera’s boyfriend Fang and narrations from Lucas and Vera, gives this story it’s holding power on the reader.


Thoughts:

  • Is this a book for Young Adult readers? It could be since a major character is a teenager, herself. But my library shelved it in new fiction and some of the content could be unsettling for younger teens.
  • How’s the balance of literary fiction to historical fiction? Here’s where I was a bit distracted. There are some really great interactions between characters and present issues but also huge chunks of history regarding Lithuania and it’s mythology. I’ve been a distracted and impatient reader lately, so I found myself skimming over the “factual” info and seeking out the relationships and character interactions.
  • How are the characters? Lucas’ voice was questionable to me at times while reading. As a parent, his concerns were spot-on but I have a hard time getting inside the heads of male characters who are emotional, thoughtful, vulnerable and introspective. Why? I don’t know. Is it really how they think? In the end I didn’t care and think Thorpe did an amazing job with all the characters. (More authors should write male characters like this, btw,–another debate for another day). Vera was so believable as a teen who is questioning her relationship with Fang, trusting a newer relationship with her father and just wanting to explore and fit in while on vacation. I LOVED her! Even mother Katya was a character who I wish had more page time. Each character is so layered and just when you think you know everything about them, they reveal something new.
  • How’s the story? A great balance overall. I did lose some momentum with the history and reveal of Lucas’ past. I was more invested in Vera. But the ending and how the story plays out did make me cry with real tears. Having a personal connection to loved ones just like Vera made it a powerful read for me. Thorpe explored mental illness in the best possible and realistic way: a very scary, very confusing and very human experience.

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe was released May 24, 2016 by Knopf. It is 303 pages and I picked up a copy at my local library.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

  1. I totally agree with you about it losing me a little in the middle with all the historical stuff and the background on Lucas’ family….otherwise I loved it.

    And interesting question about whether this could be considered YA. I feel like the focus on Lucas’ background makes it feel a lot less like YA.

  2. I think this is one of those great books that makes a good transition between YA and adult – I think it’s one I probably would have loved as an older teenager, as I wanted to jump into adult books as soon as possible.

  3. Completely agree on the historical aspects of the novel. I wanted more Vera and, especially more Fang. I thought his email to Lucas was so spot-on- nervous, respectful, but still a teenager who didn’t know what to do.

    I did not feel like it was YA.

  4. Thanks for the review. I’m kind of intrigued by the Lithuanian part. I still haven’t read Thorpe’s other novel, but i do want to get to both of them.

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